RFA West Lancs Bdes
1151 BDR. R. ROOM. R.F.A.
Robert Room was born on 7 July 1893 in Everton and baptised at the church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception on 10 July. His father was Robert Fletcher Room (b. 1872 in Everton), a fruit porter. His mother was Elizabeth (Bessie) Ruddigan (b. 1873 in Everton). The Room family were CofE but the Ruddigans were Irish Catholics. Bessie’s parents had come to Liverpool from Cavan in Ireland in the mid 1860s. Mixed marriages at the time were relatively unusual and often frowned upon, but Robert and Bessie seem to have navigated the difficulties as they were married at St Peter’s (CofE) in Everton, but their children were baptised as Catholics. The couple had a very traumatic marriage as far as children were concerned: they had at least 12 children but at least 7 of them died in infancy. Robert was their first child and he was followed by surviving siblings: Catherine (b. 1898), William (b. 1899), Edward (b. 1905) and David (b. 1916). In 1911, the family lived at Stonewall Street in Everton, and Robert jnr was working as a laboratory attendant in a wholesale chemist’s. Stonewall Street no longer exists. It was demolished in the 1920s to make way for the Grizedale Estate which in turn was demolished in the 1970s. The area now is covered by Everton Park and Rupert Lane Recreation Ground.
In February 1914, Robert (jnr) married Marion Reid (b. 1893 in Everton). They were married at St Peter’s (CofE) and when their daughter, Eleanor Marion, was born in August, she was baptised in the same church. In fact, Eleanor was born just a week after Britain declared War on Germany. Robert had presumably been in the Territorials before War broke out and he enlisted on 20 January 1915. He was assigned service number 1151 and posted initially to “A” Battery of 278 Brigade, which became “D”/276 on 23 May 1916. Robert landed in France with 55th Division on 29 September 1915. He was at some point promoted to Bombardier.
55th Division had participated in the bombardment prior to the opening attack of the Battle of the Somme on 1 July 1916, but they moved south between 25-30 July to take their place in the line opposite Guillemont. On the night of 31 July-1 August 1916, 276Bde relieved 149Bde (30th Division), in the line at Talus Boise Valley, south-west of Guillemont. An attack on the village was to take place at 4.20 in the morning of 8 August and throughout the previous day and night a continuous bombardment was kept up on Guillemont village, which was known to be strongly fortified. “This bombardment was almost awe-inspiring in its intensity and it might have been, with good reason, thought that nothing could live through it. When the attack began, the artillery was to give support by means of a ‘creeping barrage’. Guillemont was part of a string of fortified villages and farms, including Delville Wood and High Wood, where the Germans mounted their sternest defences against the British and French attacks. The Allies would not make significant progress here for another month.
Robert was wounded in action, probably during the first week of August. He was taken eventually to Casualty Clearing Station No. 5, at Corbie, near the River Somme, where he died on 8 August 1916. He was 23 years old.
Service No: 1151
Date of Death: 08/08/1916
Regiment/Service: Royal Field Artillery, "D" Bty. 276th Bde.
Grave Reference: Plot 2. Row A. Grave 71.
Cemetery: CORBIE COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION
Additional Information: Son of Robert F. and Elizabeth Room, of Liverpool.